Oh my! What a gorgeous wedding we have for you today folks, a stunning Swancar Farm Country House wedding reception and a Mehndi day at the family home in a gorgeous marquee. It really was an incredible Autumnal weekend filled with DIY décor, an abundance of flowers, personal touches and a lot of fun!
Welcoming WWW readers Humah and Ives to our pages, with their relaxed and love filled wedding weekend. Firstly the couple held a Mehndi day complete with traditional heirloom attire, henna, vibrant décor and colourful cake. It looked amazing! They then headed to Swancar Farm Country House in Nottinghamshire for their wedding day, which was really special. They included bilingual calligraphy signs, wild style Autumn flowers, hand made cross stitch signs, cool transport, DIY concrete table numbers and so much more. Every single little detail was thoughtfully considered. I’ve not even mentioned the super stylish attire and the sparkler exit. Wow!
Maree Frances Photography captured their celebrations so perfectly and I am really thankful to be sharing these remarkable images with you.
A weekend trip to Amsterdam, one of Ives’s favourite places that I had never been to before, in December 2017. We were on an evening walk taking in the festival of lights installations and he proposed to me by one of the beautiful designs hovering over the canal paths. He also waited until the last evening because he knew I had resigned myself to it not happening after 6 years of being together at that point. I found out afterwards that when I had been ill the weekend before our trip, he had travelled to meet my parents and ask for their permission. My dad said ‘bit late to ask that now’ and my mum said ‘about time’. True romance!
Aivaras (Ives) is Lithuanian and Humah is British Pakistani with her family predominantly based in Nottingham, so we made the decision to have a UK wedding to accommodate where most guests are based, but wanted it to be fusion with personal connection all the way through. We’re both creative in different ways (Humah is affectionately referred to as the project manager haha!) and really wanted our personalities to shine through.
We also didn’t want a cookie cutter wedding but we knew being based in London that finding a brilliant venue would help us focus on the DIY elements because we couldn’t travel up a lot.
Finally, the key vision was that I was always going to have a “Mehndi”. Traditionally for women only, we wanted a party to celebrate the joining of two cultures, families and traditions and a relaxed intimate family home occasion for our guests to enjoy a full weekend with us.
The Planning Process
We had a near two year engagement and our only non-negotiable was the location so everything else came together slowly but surely, with lots of things evolving as we went along! We made big supplier decisions quickly such as venue, photographer, florist (more on this not going to plan first time later!) and entertainment as we had read lots of blogs and heard our friends saying how quickly things get booked. I’d say any ‘process’ went out the window in 2019 with career changes, and Ives coming off his motorbike, but we tried to do most things in a weekday evening so that we didn’t spend every weekend on wedding – we wanted to try and enjoy usual life too!
The biggest thing we used was Google Drive. For someone with terrible memory (Ives) and given our different work schedules, this essentially became our total planning document. Everything from budget, to decisions, to logging creative ideas went on there. Still using it now for our thank you cards!
Mehndi Day: family home and Marquee for Mehndi – Kervi Marquees.
Wedding Day: Swancar Farm Country House.
The Details & Décor
- Mehndi décor – my mum, auntie and uncle lovingly turned the house around using lots of decoration brought back from Pakistan, materials that my mum has had for many years were used to drape the marquee and we also displayed pictures from both families to welcome guests. My auntie handmade floral bracelets for close family and friends to place on the bride. I cannot thank my close family enough for all the work they put into making the home such a wonderful celebration for our Mehndi day, we were stunned and humbled by their efforts.
- The transport: Ives has a real passion for cars and motorbikes and has lovingly restored his pride and joy: his 1982 Honda CB750. He rode it from London to Nottingham in the week before the wedding and then sat through days of torrential rain and storm weather, knowing that we’d just take our car to the venue. The night before the wedding it was forecast as over 90% rain and by some miracle, we woke up to blue skies and sunshine. Ives will never forget how incredible (and lucky!) his ride to the venue was, and our guests loved it too.
- The Groom arrival: After getting off his bike, Ives had a traditional ‘barat’ welcome where his family were presented with floral garlands, he was asked for money from my bridesmaids ahead of getting married (and they hustled him for his bike keys haha!) and he was then finally presented with a glass of milk from my Auntie, to welcome him to the family. My auntie hand made so much for the wedding, including a beautifully embroidered and beaded cover for the milk.
- The night before the wedding Humah, her bridesmaids and bridesman stayed at Swancar’s cottage.
- Invitations: Ives designed our invitations but we knew we wanted a fun illustration to outline the weekend and luckily, Ives was introduced to a wonderful illustrator by a work colleague. Livi Gosling brought our sketch to life and we used this map to inspire the rest of our stationery designs.
- Concrete table numbers for centrepieces – Ives designed, 3D printed and cast in concrete, all by hand and as his key contribution to the day (is what he jokes!).
- The wooden welcome sign and table plan was something we really wanted to be bilingual and we found “The Write Girl” on Etsy who was able to bring this to life .
- Wedding favours doubled up as name placecards – they were vintage toy cars which we found at a car boot sale local to where we live in North London, a nod to Ives love of cars.
- Cross stitches – Humah hand made all of the cross stitch signage in the run up to the wedding.
- H&A letters – Jemstone Events
- Photobooth – Snapcandy Booths, some our funniest and most precious messages left in our photobook which we found on not on the highstreet, made from recycled sari material.
- We had confetti and sparklers, because why not!
- Tea bar – in the evening we served a selection of British and Lithuanian teas to guests, the Lithuanian teas were given as a present from Ives’s auntie who couldn’t make the wedding so it was lovely to have her contribution with us, and another important mark of our fusion weekend.
We were so so lucky with our florist as we originally found someone who then had to cancel our booking and we were left a bit stuck. I wasn’t 100% keen on their vision but had been keen to tick it off the list so on second go, we listened to what our gut was telling us and we cannot imagine our day without Hattie from Poppy Scout florist. Hattie was incredible at bringing our wildflower, meadow, UK sustainably sourced floral dreams to life and did centrepieces, bouquets, buttonholes and some touches for bridal hair, our table plan and cake too. We kept the brief loose to enable her to do her thing and we have absolutely no regrets. A wonderful woman and another friend made.
Ives best man works on yachts and always somewhere new in the world, so we had everything crossed that he could make it and he managed to make it work. We picked up a suit he had from his mum and dad’s in Hertfordshire, and he flew in just ahead of the weekend. Any plans to coordinate outfits were never even talked about, Ives and I knew that we wanted people to feel comfortable and not break the bank buying new stuff or feel under any pressure.
Mehndi Day – Bride
Hair and MUA: the incredible Steffi Sandhu who I found on instagram. I’m not confident at all and knew therefore that I needed to feel really comfortable with make-up – she was such a hype woman to me! I also invested in a trial which can feel like a lot of money but it’s so worth it to build a connection and for peace of mind, so I would definitely recommend to people who aren’t sure whether it’s worth it. I really don’t do make up well and learning from Steffi was great. Instagram: Steffisandhumakeupartist
Groom – au naturale ;)
Henna artist – “Mehndi” means henna and it’s a hugely symbolic part of the pre-wedding celebration. The henna plant is applied to hands and feet and since I was little I have always looked forward to this moment. I was again hugely lucky to have booked “Hennabyameena” who I had been following on instagram due to her incredibly intricate designs. I adored my henna and so many of our guests also got it done so on Sunday the colours were beautiful and it was a real talking point.
Wedding Day – Bride
MUA – Steffi Sandhu (as above)
Hair – I spotted “Amazing Grace Hair & Make-up” on instagram because of her natural/boho styles and the fact that she was a young women locally based. Where possible I wanted to work with local businesswomen who have a passion for what they do. It was a real treat being pampered by two different people on the wedding day and they also worked so well together, it was a lot of fun.
We had a traditional selection of Asian ‘mithai’ sweet treats and Lithuanian šakotis (a tall spit cake). As a wedding gift, Humah’s friend Lucy also made an incredible cake with the Lithuanian flag colours inside which was a real show stopper and some adorable cupcakes to go alongside it.
Ives and I have been to so many weddings over the years where we see a stunning cake displayed and never get to have any of it. So we knew two things: 1. Bring on the cake tasting and 2. Everyone is getting our cake served as dessert.
Once again we found a wonderful local talent, Kautar from Drip and Drizzle Bakery who makes magic from her home kitchen. Ives designed the cake as a three tier geometric structure in white with copper flecks to fit with our vibe. The flavours were lemon curd, chocolate fudge and red velvet and we served it with fruit – went down a storm! Ives is also obsessed (no exaggeration, puts it on burgers type of obsession) with peanut butter so we also asked for Reese’s pieces peanut butter cookies to be made which were served to all guests.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Bride: I knew from day one that I wanted to wear the bridal sari that my mother wore on her wedding day in the 70s. I was also privileged to keep it traditional and wear the same jewellery set that she had worn, and my Grandmother before her. A more modest look than what Asian brides usually go for but I loved the simplicity of the thread work, and I felt very connected to my roots. My mum went to Pakistan before I got married to have a head piece made to match the set.
Groom: As it was the first time many of our guests were experiencing a Mehndi, we reached out to all of Ives’s family to see if they wanted to wear a traditional men’s ‘khurta’. We were so blown away that everyone said yes! Ives wore a bespoke simple khurta (long shirt top) made in Pakistan and brought back by my mum with a decorative scarf.
Dress: I must have gone to about 13 bridal boutiques across the country with visions of finding “the one”. My first piece of advice is be authentically yourself and trust your gut. I just couldn’t get settled with the idea of spending thousands on a dress that I was likely to only wear once, and I also felt panicked at the idea of not knowing the final article because you try on a sample. One of the most expensive purchases of my life to date and I was hating every moment. Feeling really despondent my mum and I popped in to Phase Eight flagship store in London and saw their bridal collection. My mum saw a dress hanging on the wall, said ‘that’s the one’ and within twenty minutes we were both crying in the changing rooms (in a good way). The day after my Auntie came in from Guildford so I could get her seal of approval too, before buying it. The absolute best decision, it was a perfect blend of fusion, bead work, metallic lace and a free and floaty style, and it didn’t break the bank which meant I was relaxed wearing it. I also found an incredible tailor called ‘Zara Makes’ based in London who made some tweaks for me, and created a bespoke veil which utilised some of my Auntie’s beads which she collected from Pakistan over the years – another really important personal touch.
Shoes: Comfort is key! I had in my head that I was going to “treat myself” to a pair of Louboutins or Choos and then I had a reality check and realised – who cares about shoes?! I found a beautiful metallic strappy pair on ASOS as part of the “London Rebel” collection and they gave a flash of something sparkly under my dress when I walked. Also bought my mum a pair because she liked them so much!
- About a month before the wedding I had a real panic about my body confidence (shout out to my incredible bridesmaids and Mama who put up with my anxiety as always) and decided that I was really insecure about my sleeveless dress. Zara at Zara Makes was incredible and as well as doing our tailoring she was able to turn around a custom veil in under 2 weeks. It was affordable because I hadn’t blown the budget on the dress and I think that it made the whole outfit so special.
- My wedding rings were from RPS Jewellers in Hatton Garden, Ives designed my engagement ring.
- My earrings were diamond studs which were a gift from my mother-in-law on my 30th birthday, and some high street imitation long drops to add some glamour to the overall look.
Suit: Ives is usually in primark jeans and a way too old t-shirt so getting him into a tuxedo was never going to feel authentic! As he was keen on an autumnal wedding (his favourite season) he wanted a burgundy or deep blue relaxed suit. We found loads of lovely suits by the make Farah and then stumbled upon one we’d been looking at online, in TkMaxx! We used Zara Makes for all of his tailoring too, and the shirt was from Charles Tyrwhitt.
Tie: Liberty London is an iconic store and the prints hold a special place in Humah’s heart as there’s a deep association with her auntie and uncle, they always wear those prints in special occasions. Therefore, the tie was always going to be the indulgence as a symbol of that family connection. Ives wore the Widnes Printed Silk tie.
- Shoes from Dune and cufflinks from Not on the High Street – gear box! Ives is a mad car enthusiast so Humah couldn’t resist buying these for him, his best man and her bridesman to wear on the day!
- Ives machined his wedding ring out of a stainless steel half nut (yup, I’m not kidding).
The Readings & Music
As it was in the family home, we hooked up Spotify and had downloaded lots of appropriate mehndi music, from Eastern classics to some Western songs that we love too like Gotye. My walk in song was the most precious moment, as it’s my earliest memories of my Mama singing. A song called “Chalte Chalte Yun Hi Koi” sung by Lata Mangeshkar and from the iconic film, Pakeezah.
One of my favourite memories of wedding prep has to be evenings sat with my Uncle and my cousin who is on a work visa from Pakistan so could attend, choosing the songs and having a great time listening to some classics. It’s these memories that make all the hard work worth it.
Our mother-in-law also did a lovely speech at the Mehndi, joining our families together and giving us words of advice for our new chapter.
Music: A gift from our bridesman was to play our guests arrival and registration music, as a highly skilled pianist we were so touched by this gift. He played my favourite pieces by Ludovico Einaudi and our exit music was Lauryn Hill’s “Eye is on the Sparrow” from Sister Act. This was one of the first tunes we used to perform together as teenagers so it was a precious moment for me, even though the guests wouldn’t have known!
We chose the bridal entrance song together – Magic by Coldplay. We saw them live together at Glastonbury a few years ago and we knew we didn’t want anything too demure – it struck the right balance and meaning for us.
For the wedding breakfast we had acoustic versions of hip hop classics playing in the background and it was SO much fun to watch our guests clock the lyrics now and then and smile to themselves. We walked into our wedding breakfast to Drake’s “God’s Plan” as the ceremony had to be non-religious, we thought this would be a fun touch and we love the tune!
Finally, we absolutely knew we didn’t want a first dance. We can’t dance (not even being modest) and we both can’t be centre of attention, it would have been way too embarrassing and panic inducing for us. However, we found the incredible “Rhythm ‘N’ Bass” and had two dhol drummers open up the dance floor whilst we came in with our bridal party behind them. They did an incredible western/Punjabi remix drumming set and worked with our DJ suppliers “Jemstone UK Events” so that their mix went into our DJ set for the night. All of our guests loved it and I didn’t stop dancing until the final tune was done!
We did personalised vows and had 2 readings:
- Love Is Friendship Set On Fire, Laura Hendricks
- Blessing of the hands, which we amended to suit our circumstance
My three beautiful Bridesmaids and Bridesman all wore traditional outfits on the Mehndi day, a mixture of being sourced by me and their own shopping trips in Manchester and Leicester.
For the wedding day, the girls found lovely dresses in Wed2B and all opted for a different neckline which meant they could have individual styles. Grace did all the bridesmaids hair and the floral hair accessories were from the high street.
I bought bridesman a matching tie from M&S after weeks of going a bit nutty about the various shades of purple available…!
Maree Frances Photography. Where can we even begin with Maree. If we could give Maree unlimited stars we absolutely would. She was the first ‘supplier’ we booked and I say that in quote marks because really and truly, we considered her more like a friend from the start. Her work speaks for itself (we found her on instagram) but her attention to detail, ability to make herself at home in any environment and her kind approach put us both so at ease and meant we enjoyed every moment of our wedding weekend.
Our old housemate Larry is a steadycam operator by trade, so for a wedding gift he offered to record key moments of the weekend and have all the raw footage for Ives to edit. Ives provided his own camera for this.
Ives also designed a custom made 3D printed (in our cupboard at home!) an all day extended battery rig for a separate go pro, that was passed around by some key guests to get more intimate moments captured.
Ives is a motion graphics designer so he’ll be putting his talents to good use editing all of this footage down to some memories for our family and close friends :)
We flew to Lisbon the evening after the wedding for a four night stay in Cascais. We usually DIY everything including holidays but in the run up to the wedding one of the smartest decisions we made was using a recommended travel agency, Travel Counsellors, to take care of everything. It felt indulgent at the time but as we were on the way to the airport we realised it was totally worth it – there’s no way I would have remembered to have checked in to our flights or have anything printed! We had a wonderful stay, went to Lisbon, Sintra and ate our way through the beautiful places we went to – pastel de natas are heavenly. We’re planning to go on a longer trip to Sri Lanka in 2020.
There are so many moments that stand out for us, often the little things that you don’t even plan in the run up to the day itself. Seeing Humah’s 3 month old niece wearing the bangles we gave her as a Mehndi present, watching two different cultures hit the dance floor and have a great time no matter what the music and the love that we felt from all of our guests. A stand out moment for us has to be the speeches, in particular Humah’s fathers and Ives who did an amazing job and spoke with such sincerity and emotion, it was very moving. Ives’s uncle also did an impromptu speech on the wedding day which was from the Lithuanian side, very heart felt and many of our guests were moved by that.
Advice For Other Couples
Take your time, stick to your principles and don’t feel like you have to conform to any wedding pressures or expectations, it’s never worth it. We absolutely got married for our families to enjoy a weekend of celebration but we tried to keep details as intimate and personal as possible, and that’s what we cherish looking back.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Maree Frances Photography
Drip and Drizzle
Table Numbers & Cross Stitch Signage
The Write Girl Calligraphy
H&A letters & DJ
Rhythm ‘N’ Bass
How utterly beautiful!?
Humah and Ives, thank you so so much for sharing your incredible fusion wedding weekend with us xo Lou